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Commodity Taxation and Social Welfare : The Generalised Ramsey Rule

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  • Jean Dreze
  • David Coady
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    Abstract

    Commodity taxes have three distinct roles: (1) revenue collection, (2) interpersonal redistribution, and (3) resource allocation. The paper presents an integrated treatment of these three concerns in a second-best general equilibrium framework, which leads to the "generalized Ramsey rule" for optimum taxation. We show how many standard results on optimum taxation and tax reform have a straightforward counterpart in this general framework. Using this framework, we also try to clarify the notion of "deadweight loss", as well as the relation between alternative distributional assumptions and the structure of optimum taxes. [Working Paper No. 87]

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by eSocialSciences in its series Working Papers with number id:2936.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:2936

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    Keywords: Commodity taxation; efficiency; redistribution; shadow prices;

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    1. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production: I--Production Efficiency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 8-27, March.
    2. Sandmo, Agnar, 1976. "Optimal taxation : An introduction to the literature," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 37-54.
    3. Guesnerie, Roger, 1979. "General statements on second best pareto optimality," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 169-194, July.
    4. P. A. Diamond & J. A. Mirrlees, 1975. "Private Constant Returns and Public Shadow Prices," Working papers 151, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    5. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stern, N H, 1974. "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 119-28, January.
    6. Deaton, Angus & Stern, Nicholas, 1986. "Optimally uniform commodity taxes, taste differences and lump-sum grants," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 263-266.
    7. Triest, Robert K, 1990. "The Relationship between the Marginal Cost of Public Funds and Marginal Excess Burden," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 557-66, June.
    8. Dixit, Avinash, 1975. "Welfare effects of tax and price changes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-123, February.
    9. Hoff, Karla, 1994. "The second theorem of the second best," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 223-242, June.
    10. P. A. Diamond, 1975. "A Many-Person Ramsey Tax Rule," Working papers 146, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    11. Mirrlees, J. A., 1976. "Optimal tax theory : A synthesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 327-358, November.
    12. David Coady, 1997. "Agricultural Pricing Policies in Developing Countries: An Application to Pakistan," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 39-57, January.
    13. Ahmad,Etisham & Stern,Nicholas, 1991. "The Theory and Practice of Tax Reform in Developing Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521397421, October.
    14. Dreze, Jean & Stern, Nicholas, 1987. "The theory of cost-benefit analysis," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 14, pages 909-989 Elsevier.
    15. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
    16. Auerbach, Alan J., 1985. "The theory of excess burden and optimal taxation," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-127 Elsevier.
    17. Dixit, Avinash K, 1970. "On the Optimum Structure of Commodity Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 295-301, June.
    18. Dreze, Jean & Stern, Nicholas, 1990. "Policy reform, shadow prices, and market prices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-45, June.
    19. Sandmo, Agnar, 1987. "A Reinterpretation of Elasticity Formulae in Optimum Tax Theory," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(213), pages 89-96, February.
    20. Sen, Amartya K, 1972. "Control Areas and Accounting Prices: An Approach to Economic Evaluation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(325), pages 486-501, Supplemen.
    21. Kay, J. A., 1980. "The deadweight loss from a tax system," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 111-119, February.
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